Big 12 Campus Correspondent
The pieces that make up a collegiate tennis program are pretty simple; six singles players, three doubles squads, a head coach, assistants and reserves. However, if you visit Oklahoma State’s brand-new Greenwood Tennis Center to check out a Big 12 tennis match, you’ll see one player who stands out among the rest.
Some OSU tennis fans recognize him as, “That guy with the awesome moustache,” but most of the Cowboys’ loyal followers know Brady Bohrnstedt as one of the squad’s most consistent singles standouts, a loving father and husband and an overall great teammate.
“I would like to thank this guy [Bohrnstedt] for encouraging me and playing with me,” teammate Arjun Kadhe said. “He always knows when to step it up, and it helps the rest of us step it up, too. I’m also thankful for his moustache.”
Bohrnstedt, a senior from Rockwall, Texas, shares certain aspects with the typical student-athlete. He practices, goes to class and hangs out with friends, just like the rest of his teammates. However, when he gets home from an afternoon hit with the team, the rest of his day is filled by spending time with his wife, Shelby, and raising their three-year-old son, Preston.
The life of Brady Bohrnstedt is extremely unique, especially with the inclusion of a personal agenda that would make most collegiate athletes cringe.
“There’s only one word to describe it; exhausting,” Bohrnstedt said. “But I get to go home every day and hang out with my son. That’s a lot of fun. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Bohrnstedt’s day-to-day schedule may be the most fascinating obstacle with maintaining a collegiate tennis career, but it’s not the only unorthodox aspect behind his path toward joining the Oklahoma State family.
For starters, he quit playing tennis for two years in high school, even after being heavily involved with it over the course of his entire life. The decision was made before his junior and senior seasons, which are some of the most crucial recruiting periods for young tennis players.
Despite putting his chances of playing at the collegiate level on hold, Bohrnstedt picked up the racket again, spent a semester at Dallas Baptist University, and eventually landed a spot at Collin College. He starred for the Cougars, leading them to a third-place finish in the junior college division while also accumulating an undefeated doubles record in 2012.
With his tennis-playing days back on track, Bohrnstedt hoped to take his revived talents to a Division 1 school, where he could take on tougher competition and increase his exposure. He emailed coaches all around the country, hoping for one to take a chance on him.
Bohrnstedt knew it would be a challenge, but he was somehow able to take the leap of faith and turn it into an amusing memory.
“It’s honestly a funny story,” Bohrnstedt said. “I was looking for a school, and I kind of just emailed a bunch of random coaches. Coming from junior college, I knew I wasn’t going to get a response from most of them.”
Among the multitude of coaches Bohrnstedt emailed was OSU Head Coach Jay Udwadia, who was beginning his first year with the Cowboy tennis program. Bohrnstedt said he emailed Udwadia around 10 p.m., and was woken up with a call the next morning around eight.
“I didn’t expect it at all, but Jay had a response for me the next morning,” Bohrnstedt said. “He wanted me to come up for a visit that weekend, like three or four days later. I came up, watched the softball team beat TCU and signed around a week later.”
After not knowing if he would ever be able to take his tennis career to the next level, Bohrnstedt had earned a spot with a Division 1 program in a conference loaded with talent.
In 2013, Bohrnstedt compiled a team-best 14-8 singles record, while also tacking on 14 wins in doubles play. The Cowboys went 12-14 and finished last in the Big 12, but with a solid recruiting class and a coach known for turning around programs, Oklahoma State looked destined for future success.
Also contributing to the squad’s resurgence was a well-built team chemistry, which Bohrnstedt claims was a key factor to staying positive throughout the season.
“We didn’t really get the results we wanted, but I had an absolute blast last year,” Bohrnstedt said. “I love the coaching staff, and I love the program. I really just love this team.”
“We try to make it as much fun as possible. If you took take it too seriously, you make mistakes under pressure, so we just try and have fun.”
With four new players in the singles lineup and a brand-new home for the team, the Cowboys opened 2014 with the best start in school history, a win over a top-10 opponent and their first Big 12 victory since 2009, ending a 29-match losing streak.
Bohrnstedt’s individual success from last season has also continued into 2014, as he has posted a 12-2 singles record and holds a team-high 13 doubles wins. Udwadia said that while the team has been consistent as a whole, Bohrnstedt has been a key contributor to the Cowboys’ 19-3 start.
“We really don’t worry about streaks, rankings or anything like that,” Udwadia said. “But if you look at the statistics, I think a good chunk of our singles wins have come from the bottom of the lineup. Brady and a few other guys are what make up that chunk. He’s done an excellent job against strong competition, and he plays a major role in making this a close-knit, family type of group.”
Bohrnstedt has backed Udwadia’s words by stressing a team-first attitude, even with one of the best individual records on the team.
“Team results really do come first,” Bohrnstedt said. “As much as I would love to go undefeated in singles the whole year, I would rather lose every singles match from here on out if it meant we would win the Big 12.”
Despite nearly quitting the sport and running a family while spending time on the courts, Bohrnstedt has played a vital role in turning the OSU tennis program into of the school’s up-and-coming sports. He grabbed the Greenwood Tennis Center crowd’s attention by taking a bow after an instrumental singles victory against Tennesee, and he won the fans over by blowing them a kiss at a later home match.
As for the moustache, Bohrnstedt has no intentions of getting rid of the facial hair he has fallen in love with over the past year. He plans on keeping it flowing as long as the team continues its success and his son and wife approve of it.
“At first, I just loved looking like Joe Dirt, and I couldn’t get away from it,” Bohrnstedt said. “I have to trim it every now and then to keep it from curling into my mouth, but I’ll keep it going as long as we keep winning.”